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35,765 People Attended Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival

About 1,500 arrived on bike, and 85 percent of waste was diverted from the landfill

The Community Environmental Council’s 2012 Earth Day Festival last weekend in Alameda Park drew in 35,765 people. Volunteer crowd counters at the festival’s six entry points tracked attendance for both days of the event.

This year’s theme, “Mobilize,” captured the power of grassroots action in protecting and preserving the environment, with a specific emphasis on the CEC’s mission of moving the Santa Barbara region away from fossil fuels in one generation — Fossil Free by ‘33.

Last Sunday, at 1:30 p.m. on the solar and bio-diesel powered Festival Main Stage constructed with sustainable bamboo materials by Bamboo DNA, activist Selma Rubin was awarded posthumously with the CEC’s 2012 Environmental Hero Award. Dave Davis, executive director of the CEC, gave tribute to Rubin in front of a large crowd of community supporters.

Rubin, credited as one of the founders of Earth Day and of the environmental movement, was commemorated with a reading of an original work by local poet Sojourner Kincaid Rolle in honor of Rubin. There was also a musical tribute to Rubin by folk band Glendessary Jam, performing “This Land Is Your Land.” A special award designed by Bud Bottoms was presented in Rubin’s honor.

“I have a very dear place in my heart for Selma. It was her passion for the Earth and for our community that inspired my own career path in environmental conservation,” Davis said. “She was tireless in working toward the betterment of Santa Barbara. We encourage the community to accept the Environmental Hero Award in Selma’s honor and pledge to carry on her legacy.”

The CEC reports excellent statistics for the 2012 Earth Day Festival:

» Approximately 1,500 people arrived to the festival by bike, and 850 bikes were valet parked; the remainder were self-parked.

» 923 people took a ride in alternative-fueled vehicles, such as the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, Coda Sedan, Toyota Plug-In Prius, Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt, at the “Ride & Drive” at the 13th Annual Santa Barbara Green Car Show, the longest-running public focused Green Car Show in the United States. Twice as many cars as last year were available for festivalgoers to test drive.

» Event organizers found a way to keep everyone hydrated with fewer disposable water bottles with two Water Monsters, which take local tap water, filter it and serve it cold. This year, the Water Monsters went through the equivalent of about 2,000 plastic bottles.

» 35,765 people attended this year’s Earth Day Festival.

Green Project Consultants, which handled all of the event waste by hand sorting each piece, was able to divert 85 percent of waste generated from the festival.

“The environmental movement has gotten more sophisticated, and you can see that reflected in the Earth Day Festival,” said Sigrid Wright, associate director of the Community Environmental Council. “We’re able to showcase a lot more technology, and people are eager to ask questions and engage.”

— Candice Nyholt is a publicist representing the Community Environmental Council.

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